Economic Inequality: Part 3
In June of 2015, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Barclays, among other Libor-rigging giants, pleaded guilty to felony charges related to the [Libor] conspiracy and greed to pay more than $2.5 billion in criminal fines to U.S. regulators.
(AP Photo / Edouard H.R. Gluck)
Representing only a single instance of a commonplace practice played out the world over, this corporate criminality instigated the outage of Craig Brandt, an attorney from Oakland, California. He set out to enact an audacious plan. With other individuals, Mr. Brandt endeavored to have the Oakland City Council “take radical action to combat plutocracy, inequality and financial dislocation”. Mr. Brandt wanted to create a city-owned “public bank”.
Recent posts on this blog have explored economic inequality and its ramifications. The post this week continues this series, beginning to focus on potential solutions to what some see as a looming economic catastrophe. As Part 3 our Economic Inequality series, consider this article by Jimmy Tobias: “What if People Owned the Banks Instead of Wall Street?”
This blog is all about “morality”. To seek Good is to aspire for the attainment of some standard of thought and behavior defined as positive in some manner. As such, a construction such as Moral Foundations Theory represents a paramount interest of this blog (and, presumably those who read it). Likewise, the trustworthiness of such a construction becomes crucial regarding its usefulness. So how useful is this theory—Jonathan Haidt’s MFT, a theoretical, research-based notion about rubrics of our moral perspective?
A Life Worth Living?
Amid the swirl of thoughts that reverberate throughout life experience, once in a while an interesting idea settles onto Quora, a question and answer website (registration required). As often as not, users post answers which are more interesting than the questions themselves. A few weeks ago, just such a response appeared in reply to the question ‘What makes life worth living?’
Many of us ponder this or similar questions, most often with little expectation of receiving a reasonable answer. In this instance, a responder we will simply call “Jimmy”, a self-defined entrepreneur and ”a Wall Street investor” stated the following:
“Nothing makes life worth living. The fact that this is even a question underlines the lack of life itself to provide a natural answer.”
The phrase “the lack of life” presents a curiously pointed accusation—an accusation directed at reality itself. Jimmy seems to think life owes us something, that life is somehow deficient, leaving us to pick up the pieces so to speak. He continues “Most of life is a sentence [did he mean “sequence”?] of failures and pains, punctuated with only the briefest of moments of happiness.” What’s wrong with this picture? (more…)
Many of us are dissatisfied with our experience of the world. We say we want things to be “better”. If we really want this “better”—whatever that means—of course we need to step up and make it happen. So what should we be doing as individuals, as a nation and as a world society? In the trenches activists like Sophia Burns urges sound strategy and tactics if appropriate change is to be achieved. Others like a blogger who goes by the moniker “Tisias” encourages left-leaning folks to step up their verbal game in order to engage “the enemy” effectively. Others stress sometimes more and sometime less radical approaches to change. All of these actions are absolutely necessary or at least potentially useful. But we should also be taking a long, hard look at who is engaging or should be engaged in such noble civic actions. Before we can answer what we should be doing, perhaps we should first answer the question “Who is ‘We’?”
In defiance of the FCC
On March 5, 2018, Washington State governor Jay Islee signed into law some bold legislation – HB2282: entitled “Protecting an open Internet in Washington State”. In direct defiance of the abolition of net neutrality by the Federal Communication Commission or FCC, Washington State became the first state in the Union to defy what some consider the corporate takeover of the Internet at the behest of the United States federal government. Other state governments are resisting the FCC by warning Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) that no state government business will be conducted with companies that do not comply with former net neutrality rules. While appeals attempting to restore net neutrality on a national level are already in place, even if such a restoration is upheld by the Senate, the House of Representatives is not likely to reverse the FCC’s December 14th, 2017 decision. Armed with the knowledge that the vast majority of Americans (including most Washingtonians) favor net neutrality and anticipating the aftermath of the FCC ruling, Washington State and an increasing number of municipalities have mobilized to counteract the federal government’s seeming willingness to defy the will of the People.
Last week, we presented the notion that our point of view—regardless of the context—is a choice or choices we have made. Furthermore, we are always free to choose, free to exercise choice, whether we believe in the existence of such freedom or not. Finally, if our current perspective suggests a specific way of viewing the world, a different choice could present a completely different way of seeing (and being in) the world.
In an essay from February 2018 called “Finding Our Bearings”, L.M. Sacasas suggests that we have a better chance of knowing where we are, a better chance to get our bearings, if we broaden rather than narrow our perspective.
If you could do anything right now, anything at all, what would you do? Why? Here is a slightly different question. If you had no constraints, if you could cause one thing to happen in the world, what event or change would you choose? Now, consider that of all the things you could have chosen, you chose this (whatever that is). What does that say about you? About your orientation and desires? Do you express such interests in your day to day decisions?
When you begin to consider what you might do if you could do anything, what is your first and second thought? Hard to pin down? For many of us one of those thoughts will be negative—some reason we believe stands in the way of doing something we say we want. We bump our heads on that learned limitation some have called achievable belief threshold or ABT—which effectively stops us in our tracks. While our wishes reflect what is important to us, so do our beliefs in limits to our freedom to fully express ourselves. But are these limits real, imposed contrivances or excuses? (more…)